STATEMENT BY THE DELEGATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY AT THE FORTY-FOURTH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT Agenda item 3(b) Priority theme: Review of the first UN decade for the eradication of poverty (1997-2006)

-- 09.02.2006
Distinguished Delegates,

At the outset, I would like to express our congratulations to you and to other members of the Bureau on your election. We are confident that under your able leadership we are going to have a fruitful session of the Commission for Social Development.

Turkey aligned itself with the statement made by the EU. Therefore, I will briefly touch upon the report of the Secretary General on the UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, and I will mainly focus on Turkey's efforts aimed at eradication of poverty.

We examined the report of the Secretary General, presented to the Commission for Social Development under the priority theme of "the review of the first UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty". The report draws attention to important facts which we should all take into consideration in our endeavors for poverty eradication. The disparity among regions in the progress made in poverty eradication, the importance of the distribution of income and the share of the poor in economic growth, the effects of gender inequality in reducing income poverty, and last but not least, the need for a comprehensive and holistic approach to eradicate poverty are some of those major points contained in the report.

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Delegates,

Turkey officially started combating poverty in the mid-1990s. Turkey's strategy to combat poverty is based on preventing the formation of culture of poverty, enhancing employment opportunities, enhancing employability and transforming individuals from being needy to productive and financially self-sufficient. Turkey's efforts to combat poverty have gained momentum following the declaration of the Millennium Development Goals. I am pleased to state that Turkey has already achieved target-1 of Millennium Development Goal-1, namely to halve the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day.

Five-year development plans and programs prepared by the State Planning Organization are the main policy formulation instruments, setting down the goals, priorities, and strategies of policies aimed at alleviating poverty in Turkey. Long-term Strategy (2001-2023) and the Eighth Five-Year Development Plan, Preliminary National Development Plan (2004-2006), Urgent Action Plan (2002), Medium-Term Program (2006 -2008) are the key documents that address the policies devised to improve the living conditions of the poor.

Alleviation of poverty by way of improving income distribution, bringing the poor segments of society to the average level of welfare through a sustainable growth rate, and the restructuring of the income transfer system to the benefit of the poor are the main policy priorities prescribed in the Eighth Five-Year Development Plan. Participation of the rural people in vocational orientation projects and programs targeting the improvement of labor productivity and diversification of production, raising employment including through micro-financing, raising cross-sectoral labor mobility and increasing social service investments so as to decrease regional disparities are the other policy priorities in the Development Plan.

The Medium-Term Program (2006 -2008) puts emphasis on the policies aimed at improving the conditions of the disadvantaged groups that have been excluded from society, such as workers without social security (especially in agriculture), uneducated people, women, children in need of protection and prone to crime, the aged and disabled.

This program has set down the following strategies and measures with a view to implementing the relevant pro-poor and social inclusion policies:

• Rendering securities such as education, health and other social services equitably available to all, taking into consideration the regional disparities,

• Fostering the employability of the socially-excluded segments of society by integrating them into society, especially those who have migrated to urban areas,

• Restructuring the social protection network in order to integrate the disadvantaged groups into the society and reduce the risk of social exclusion and poverty to the minimum by conferring responsibility to all segments of the society.

In our own efforts to combat poverty, one major challenge has been the lack of effective coordination among the institutions responsible for alleviating poverty, as well as the absence of norms and standards in the programs they implement. Consequently, pro-poor policies envisaging new poverty programs have been put into action. These policies and programs are focusing on fostering the social protection system and the generation of new employment areas. I can recall the "Social Risk Mitigation Project (SRMP), co-funded by the World Bank and the Turkish Government as one of the leading policy practices in this area.

Distinguished Delegates

Poverty alleviation requires a comprehensive and holistic approach. In this respect, in addition to the efforts by the government, the support and the contribution of the civil society are also of particular importance. Pro-poor practices by the NGO's are also instrumental. In this context, I would like to refer to the implementation of the Local Agenda 21 Program as a good practice. Actually, Local Agenda 21 was chosen as the Best Practice at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. The program targets combating poverty on a democratic and active participatory basis, mainly giving the young and women the capacity to produce community-driven poverty-reduction and sustainable development projects. Several vocational and project cycle management trainings, capacity-building activities and social projects have been realized in cooperation with NGOs, the private sector and local authorities.

Distinguished Delegates,

At the 2005 World Summit we reaffirmed our commitment to the elimination of poverty. In our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for poverty reduction we should built upon the experience gained during the UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, and intensify our efforts to this end.

Thank you.